Television

El Clasico among most viewed global annual sporting events, says Sony's Rajesh Kaul

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MUMBAI: Spain’s leading football league La Liga’s official broadcasters in India -- Sony Pictures Networks India president, distribution and sports Rajesh Kaul has said that El Clasico was among the most viewed annual sporting events in the world and they enabled football fans who could not watch the match live at Barcelona's Camp Nou, an opportunity to experience one of the most heavily anticipated games of the season with football legends, Luis Garcia and Frederic Kanoute.

La Liga, which launched its India office in New Delhi recently, screened in Delhi and Mumbai European-style live match between FC Barcelona & Real Madrid CF, popularly called the ‘E l Clasico.

Meanwhile, a number of Europe's major leagues, including the Spainish La Liga, the Bundesliga in Germany, Italy's Serie A and France's Ligue 1, include a mid-season break. England manager Gareth Southgate has meanwhile questioned whether the introduction of a winter break in the premier league would improve fortunes in major tournaments. Southgate, who was handed a four-year contract last week having impressed the FA during four matches as interim manager, said any negative effects of England's fixture-packed winter schedule were an "assumption".

The lack of a winter break during the season has often been considered one of several factors contributing to England's international failures in recent years, with some premier league managers claiming the gruelling festive period pushes players to their limits. Traditionally, English football had a busy Christmas period when teams frequently play several matches in a short period, with just a few days rest between games.

Mumbai and Delhi hosted European style fan park screenings. Garcia and Kanoute attended the events and engaged with the fans.

The match concluded in a draw with some high action in the last minute of the game. Both cities witnessed unprecedented support from the fans, as they took over the stadia to support their respective clubs.

Both clubs had a large fan following in India, and for the first time, their fans had a chance to experience the El Clasico in a fan park atmosphere with a football carnival focussed around the match. The evening included giant screens, competitions and fan engagement activities, food & beverage stalls both in Mumbai (Khar Gymkhana) and in Delhi (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium).

La Liga president Javier Tebas said that theit aim was to take La Liga across the world, and further establish the league as one that was inclusive and is global. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid were hugely popular in India and they feel that they owe the passionate fans of the league, a chance to experience such an event.

Garcia, who played for Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona in La Liga, said it was a fantastic atmosphere at the screening and it was wonderful to see such enthusiasm from the crowd.

Kanoute, who attended the Mumbai screening, said he was glad to see such tremendous support for Spanish football in India, it was an evenly fought contest and was a treat for all.

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